tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN February 5, 2014 4:00am-6:01am EST
legislation. i came here after the legislation was passed. i can praise those who have been here for putting tough sanctions in place. the vote was 100-0 in the body. the and the administration has been able to utilize sanctions to bring iran to the table because it is crippled their economy and isolated them in the international community. but the sanctions are not enough to stop an iranian nuclear program. one thing it crippled the economy. if anything it's making iran isolated accelerated their path to try to develop nuclear technology for whatever purpose. if we're going to stop that nuclear program, and that quest for nuclear weapons, we have to do it diplomatically or do it militarily. i support the sanctions and i'll easily and gladly vote for more if we cannot find an agreement. i have some ideas about a-- i want to raise either with the
panel or the second one. but i think that this joint plan of action and the diplomatic effort of the administration give us a historic opportunity we can't afford to put a cross on. the joint plan of action and the interim agreement, with in my view from analyzing it and reading analysis done by many who are smarter than me that slows and reverses aspects with not all aspects but critical aspect of the iranian nuclear program, which sanctions alone has not been able to do. and it also provides this country and our partners and all of our allies and the entire world a better early warning system about whether iran is cheating. we get more time on the clock and better early warning system because of the deal. we have to give diplomacy a chance. we have to. i think aggressive diplomacy has been an underexercised american muscle. in the last 15 years. we have to return to the kind of aggressive diplomacy the nation
embraced when teddy roosevelt broke end the end of the war, won a nobel peace prize. since that time, our strength has been measured not just by military strength, the strength of our moral example in the strength of our diplomatic effort. we can be appropriately skeptical. the president has been can dit in talking to all of us it's maybe 50/50 or whether we will find a deal we will take would be sufficient. if we don't, of course there will be greater sanctions we put in place and that will support. we have to give diplomacy a chance. not only in this instance. we have to return to the tradition of aggressive american diplomacy has been the core element of our power in the world. it has been the exercise. and i'm glad to see we're getting back to it. last thing quickly. there may be a deal when the deal doesn't work. we are to contemplate military
action to stop iran from getting a nuclear weapon. i don't think it's hard to contemplate we might be at that day at some point in the future. as i said, i'll say it now, if there this was no other way to stop iran from getting a nuclear weapon then for us to engage in military action hopefully with others i'm going vote yes on that. in order for us to vote yes, we have to be able to look our allies and our citizens especially the men and women we ask to fight that battle we would to be able to look them in the eye and tell them we have exhausted every diplomatic effort prior to undertaking that significant step. we may have to undertake that significant step. we shouldn't do it if we -- if we leave diplomatic avenues unexplored. let's make this negotiation about iran's good faith. let's not make it about our good
faith. let's demonstrate our good faith and put them to the test whether they're serious about ending their nuclear weapons program. >> let me thank the senator for his thoughtful comments and maybe the administration can be enlightened to understand differences between tactic and war monogopherring and fear morningerring. >> senator flake. i appreciate the comment of my colleague from virginia. i share many of the sentiments. i've not signed on for the new sanctions bill here. i believe that diplomacy can work, we ought to allow it to work. i haven't appreciated some of the comments from the administration describing those who are in favor of the sanctions bill or implying they're war mongering or have anything but the best motives. i think that everyone here wants the same thing.
for the administration or others to describe people who have a different view i think is unfair. for myself, i hope these negotiations will work. there some concerns i have just in terms of the specifics. one of the criticisms of the joint plan of action is that it deals with known nuclear facilities in iran. it's a little bit unclear as to what will happen if we discover ore facilities that were not known prior to this. how are they covered? the term any new nuclear facility, is that a new one or newly discovered and what means do we have to try to find other facilities out there? >> thank you very much, senator. thank you for your comments, senator cane. thank you for yours. let me say for the record, i don't believe any of you in any
senator, any member of the house are war mongers. i don't belief anyone prefers war. i understand how, as a senator described in the excellent piece on iran case against new iran sanctions describing how one gets to military action and the concern we have tactical considerations may lead us to the choice. but that is an issue of tactics, as you have pointed out, not an issue of intent and not a characterization of any individual. so i quite agree with that. in terms of new nuclear facilities. we meant what the joint plan of action says. there can be no nuclear facilities either declared or une declared. if we find undeclared new nuclear facility, that's a cause
of grave concern to all of us. it would be against the compliance require forked the joint plan of action. i can't today tell you what our response would be. i would imagine it would be quite, quite concerning and we would to respond in a very forcible way. >> do you have concerns if we were to impose new sanctions that our partners p5+1 would strike their own deal and leave us out is that a possibility a concern that the administration has? >> i think that's a possibility, of course. i think more broadly, senator, our ally and partners in the world are concerned, one of the reasons the captions regime has been as effective as it has been is because people have climbed on board with us particularly in our unit literal sanctions even
when they don't believe in unilateral sanctions and tell us at every opportunity. they have, in fact, followed them. dealing with the american banking system is so crucial to the economy of virtually every country in the world they have complied even though they don't like them. and so if we in fact don't give negotiations a chance, they have less of an incentive to stay on board with that sanctions regime. and we could unwittingly create a rupture in the sanctions enforcement and sanctions regime which is crucial to the kind of aggressive diplomacy that senator was outlining. >> thank you. that's always been my feeling unilateral sanctions rarely work. there are certain areas central banks on the financial sector where we can lead there. we run the risk of getting ahead of our allies or partners where where they won't go and the sanctions regime will unreally a
of. anybody who thinks that unilateral sanctions work very well. i'll give you cuba as exhibit a for a long time of unilateral sanctions have not produced the desired outcome. we need p5+1 partners and others to participate with us here and the stakes are obviously much higher in this regard. newtthank you for your testimony. >> senator. thank you very much. i won't associate with myself -- i thought he articulated my point of view in term of the important -- importance of the these negotiations. let me ask you a specific question on the issue of enrichment capacity. it appears at least at the outset, there is a divergent point of view in term of whether or not iran can retain enrichment capacity at the end
of a successful negotiation process. any enrichment capacity. the weapons grade level but any enrichment capacity. would you address that? >> sure, senator. there is no question it would be far preferable if iran didn't have an indynel use enrichment capability. they will have the capability, as i said earlier they can't unlearn what they know. in term of actually having a program, it would be preferable if they got any fuel from outside sources. brought to on the open market, had international cooperation, international consortia. they would be preferrable roots to go, but it may be at the end of a comprehensive agreement we have allowed for consideration of a very small limited enrichment program to meet practical needs that would be highly monitored. highly verified with intrusive
inspections over a very long duration of time. potentially as part of a comprehensive agreement. but what is very critical in a joint plan of action is nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to. >> there is no prospect that iran scrolled a small limited and highly monitored program without us agreeing to all of that verification monitoring and all the other aspects necessary for comprehensive agreement including addressing the u.n. security counsel resolution. we have a long way to go here. >> going back to ronald reagan's famous "trust but verify." it involves aeae inspectors now currently on the ground. i believe you testified before i arrived reports coming back from at least encouraging in term of their access. can you elaborate on that a bit? there are those who say there are things going on they'll never be able to see and never
be told about and those things could be the most dangerous and threatening. there will be no way even with military action to ensure that we know everything that there might be to know. both with -- our national technical means and other ways we work to know as much as we possibly can know. and the vertification and monitoring we put in place with the joint plan of action increases our ability to know whether there are covert activities going on that we may not have been aware of. not only because we have greater access daily to -- greater access to iraq, at least monthly. their plans for iraq. access to uranium, access to the centrifuge protection. all of which provide clues as to whether something is going on
somewhere else when we can look at the guts of all of these facilities. so i think we have greatly increased our ability to know if there is something that is covert that is going on. i'm not going to kid this panel, this committee, or the world to know there is any way ever that any country can give you 100% guarantee that we know everything. >> thank you. mr. chairman, since my colleague from illinois, senator kirk, has been part of the effort on enhanced sanctions along with senator menendez. i want to join the course you have joined on, mr. chairman. i don't question for a moment the motives of anyone engaged in this. we have had the same goal. stop a nuclear iran. keep israel safe. stabilize and bring peace to the middle east. these are goals we all share.
and they approach may be different. i haven't signed on this bill. my feeling is if the negotiations fail, there are two alternatives. a nuclear iraq or war. or perhaps both. i want to say at the end of the day we have exhausted every reasonable opportunity to negotiate an alternative short of those two outcomes. i will also say those on this committee may have a better appreciation for the public sentiment in america on the subject the most. it wasn't that long ago senator men menendez convened us to discuss president obama's request for military authority when we believed -- and subsequently learned to be true, that there were mass stores of chemical weapons in syria. i recall the debate and the public reaction to the suggestion with the president would even have the authority. not boot on the ground but the author to use any military action. the public sentiment was
overwhelmingly negative. the vote on the committee was 10-7. it was never brought to the floor for obvious reasons. i'll back up senator's comments earlier. if we believe, god for bid we're going reach awful alternative in the future the american people standby us or listen to us, we have to convince them we have exhausted every available reasonable conflict opportunity to avoid conflict and war. that's why we should believe we should give the negotiations an opportunity even with the president's admonition it's a long shot or a 50/50 shot of success. i thank you for your work. thank you, mr. chairman. >>.
>> thank you for your testimony. does the administration consider itself bound to the comprehensive iran sanctions of 2010 and 2012? >> if you're talking about legislation that has been passed and signed by the president, of course. >> this those sanctions, they allow for termination of sanctions once iran has verify belie dismantled the chemical baa list l missile launch technologies as well as in longer being a state sponsor of terrorism.
the waiver is 120 days. i would expect and hope it's not going to be out con luges you ask to waive the sanctions and do whatever you want and you're working all for negotiations working on negotiation within the parameter of legislation has been passed. my concern is, it's a concern for the way these legislation is written and has been written for many things is that we carve out exceptions and waivers for the presidency thinking that's the only reasonable thing to do. but the waivers become so large you can drive a truck through them. they end up having no teeth and lose all teeth in the legislation. for example, i give you egypt, you know, we said, well, we're not going give them unless democracy. it turns out they're not close to a democracy. the administration stamps them as an democracy. it happen before the coup when
it wasn't much of a democracy. it's not much of a democracy now. we say you can't get money when there's a military coup we passed legislation basically expanding that waiver to make it really have no death at all and then we end up passing something no restrictions at all basically on continuing military aid after a coup. i think really that this is a big question. it should be a big legislative question when we consider how we write legislation and grant waivers. because i believe -- i fully believe that no matter the testimony the administration has shown the propensity just to do what they want. and we may well go through waiver after waiver after waiver in the end we may get a negotiated settlement that really does not comply with the sanctions that have been written so if we want sanctions to have -- legislation to have it we need to be concerned about how wide and expansive we make the waivers. that's just a point i would like
that make. i like your comment you say you feel bound legislation and i hope they will continue to be true. >> senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, both, forking being here. under secretary cohen, recently you said iran is not open for business. pointing out that the majority of the sanctions remain in place. but yet we have seen -- i think people have e -- alluded here a great deal of interest on the part of the european partners in opening trade delegations with iran. i sent a letter last week to kathy ashton, the u.n. high representative and ambassadors of all of those country which is had expressed an interest in trade delegation expressing my concern about the kind of message that sends to iran about where the international
community is relative to the lessening of sanctions. i wonder if you can speak to whether these trade delegations actually do risk undernining our international sanctions regime and is the appetite europe wayneing to continue to enforce the sanctions that we have in place? >> senator, i have seen your letter. appreciate your letter, and gre with -- agree with your letter. encouraging our counter part in europe and elsewhere to show restraint. to recognize that the sanctions that remain in place are so comprehensive, so precollusive of doing real business with iran today that the not worth the effort to go to iran to explore business deals now.
no. we see, of course, some of the trade dell divisions are going. what we have seen is they are exploring the possibility of deals if a long-term agreement is reached and there is substantial sanction relief that come as part of that. we have been clear about with our partners is that our preference is that businesses, trade delegations, government show restraint right now. that in all events no deals are struck now. that violate the sanctions and that if any of that occurs we will respond vigorously in enforcing our sanctions. >> excuse me for interrupting. can you also speak to what kind of a message it sends to iran? these trade delegations and whether that lessen their
interest in continuing to negotiate at the bargaining table? >> i am weary of trying to get inside the psych key of the iranians. i will say there's a -- perhaps a mixed message that gets to the iranians on this. on the one hand, it shows that there is an interest in the world in doing business and for sure the iranians are try to ill illicit the interest. convey the message interested in business in the future. that not today but if there's a comprehensive deal. i would cite the remarking of the ceo of the italian energy company who before he met with president robert byrd -- the best way for sanctions to be lifted is sanctions to be applied now. we're not doing business in iran
now. we are looking potentially at the future when there is comprehensive deal. i think it can create within iran the dynamic where the iranian business community, which is desperate to reengage with the world. they have been cut off from the world. i think senator murphy made a good point. part of the interest in europe and elsewhere that the iranian economy is perform soggy far below the capacity right now because of sanctions there's a pent up demand. that demand -- >> excuse me, again, for interrupting. i just want to get in a final question, which is about russia. and the suggestion they would do an oil for good deal with iran and what we're doing to try to discourage that and to discourage other potential countries who might be looking at that same kind of a deal. >>.
>> we are across the administration working extraordinarily hard to ensure that there is no such deal that occurs. >> if i may, senator. on the oil for barter goods deal that was in the newspapers, at all levels of our government including at the highest level we have raised our concern quite directly with russia about this. and secretary kerry raised it directly with iran. my own sense is after a fair amount of clarity about this matter, that nothing will move forward that the time. we are very crystal clear that anything like such an agreement between russia and iran might have potential sanctionable action, and would likely create
tremendous risk within the p5+1, which would make coming to a comprehensive agreement all the more difficult if not impossible. so we have been very clear. my own sense it's not moving forward at this time. and i think that if that is indeed the case we can continue to verify the fact that is a very good decision. >> senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman, very much. i understand during the six month period that began january 20th, the they plan to issue reports each month on iran's compliance. i recall during the months leading up to the 2003 war in iraq inspectors reported on the activities much more frequently. sometimes as often as daily. is it possible for you to -- to provide public updates on all activities within iran at least on a weekly basis.
i think would give everyone more confidence. there is no deception taking place on the part of the iranian government. >> thank you very much, senator. we will certainly discuss your ask with the aeea. it's a different circumstance than iraq in term of the extend of the program and particular of the situation. the -- they will have have daily access as well as other surveillance means available to them as well as at least monthly access to iraq and access to uranium mines centrifuge production. i think they'll have great increased visibility way beyond anything today. we will convey -- >> i think it would be important for confidence building in the united states and around the world. it would be more frequent than the iaea announced it intend on
making public. i think we all have a right to know that since we are running the risk and the iaea works for us a and the world. i think we should have that information on the ongoing basis. i think it would be helpful. it they determines if there are compliance concerns, will you ensure such are reported promptly to the american people and the congress? >> we will certainly take our responsibility seriously. >> you will -- >> we are make you. as i said earlier in the monthly report we get will be glad to do -- might be comprehensive. i think it's important we get much more frequent. the interim for the purpose of replacing broken one. they will be able to verify that particular centrifuges are in
fact broken. will the broken centrifuge be removed from the facility and provided iaea inspectors to confirm they are actually no longer functioning. i don't know the exact mechanism, senator, i i'll have the expert come up and give you the briefing what they will do. since indeed one of the details of the agreement they can only replace damage centrifuges with centrifuges same kind, we have asked the iaea to verify that is -- >> i think it's important the ratio stay one to one. ..
you were talking about the practical leaves of the iranians earlier. a country that flares off 13 nuclear power plants come equivalents of natural gas each year. obviously it does not have many practical means for multiple new nuclear power plants to generate electricity. our you going to determine that, what is practical? because obviously there is a very high prevarication coefficient historically in iran, and if they plan on building ten to 20 nuclear power plants the practical means will be vastly expanded nuclear enrichment program in their country, even if it is under tight safeguards. >> your point is very well
taken, senator. as i said, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. the practical needs are certainly an element of consideration, a comprehensive agreement, but so are our concerns about their ability to have nuclear weapons, which is prairie that they not obtain a nuclear weapon. and so whenever the final agreement is, that is the assurance that is most of concern to us. >> i appreciate that. again, if they build ten new nuclear power plants, it would be a vast and rich a program that would have to have. just the complications of monitoring such a program would be exponentially greater, and i just think that we have to keep that on -- in our mind because that is how they would actually crack this inspections regime in the years ahead, even if we got a comprehensive agreement. finally, since the november agreement have you seen signs of an uptick in the iran support for proxies' and allies around
the middle east? do you have reason to believe that iranians feel they now have greater leeway to intervene more aggressively in the region because of the agreement that has been reached and nuclear program on an interim basis? >> it would probably be valuable to have our intelligence community give you their assessment of exactly that question because we have asked that question. would point out that there was concern by many that they would take the first payment of $550 million cycle that and to support for hezbollah in syria. that does not appear to be the case, and we are glad to give you the briefing on that. more importantly, i think you have seen in the news that iran has visibly just provided food to those that are poor as a way of demonstrating quite treacly that this limited targeted an temporary sanctions relief as a direct impact on the people in the country which is what
president run the promised. he did not promise that money would be used for other purposes >> the senators and others of raise this issue. one hundred french executives traveled yesterday to explore new economic openings, and the same is true for russia, germany, china. i just think that it is very important for the administration to say to each of these countries that if there is no comprehensive agreement that not only is the lender going to be shut on this in the united states is going to sanction any of the business when he think that they will cut deals, but that additional sanctions will be put in place and that additional action will also, perhaps, have to be taken in order to make sure that there is no nuclear program. a clear, explicit statement of that would be reassuring to people to know that there will be no games that will be allowed by any of these businessmen and that there will be punished by the u.s. government.
>> senator, i would briefly say that that is precisely the messes that has been conveyed in the in days is that we have had over the last several weeks. no, there will be robo wavering in the enforcement of the sanctions, and also, we have made the point to if a comprehensive deal is not reached, if, for instance, iran feels that it does not need to reach a comprehensive deal because the kindle sanctions relief through other means, three evasion or through trying to develop business activities that the consequence of that to all of these businesses is going to be to their detriment. it will be much worse than what they face today, and i think that message is getting across. >> let me thank you both for your testimony, engagement. i will have a series of
said on the floor this morning. mr. president, this is the conference report for the agricultural act of 2014, and senator stabenow was on the floor earlier. she stepped off now. she has poured her heart and soul into this document and into this work. two years ago, we passed the farm bill on the floor of the
senate, two years ago. she did it with senator roberts of kansas. i voted for it. i thought it was an exceptional effort on her part. it went to the u.s. house of representatives, as is the custom under the constitution, to wither and die two years ago. and then a year ago, they said let's try again. let's pass the farm bill again in the united states senate in the hopes that the u.s. house of representatives will take it up, a year ago. mr. president, i ask to -- if you restore order in the senate chamber. the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. durbin: so a year ago, senator stabenow and senator roberts sent this measure to the house of representatives for consideration, and again it languished. it may have been one of the longest running conference committees in the history of congress. but thank goodness for the perseverance of senator stabenow and many others. they have produced this document.
now, for those who don't live in farm country, this may seem like a foreign text, but for those of us who do live, just reading the table of contents will tell you the important elements of this bill and why it is so critically important to illinois, virtually every state in the union. and i commend her. i commend senator stabenow. she really, as i said, poured her heart and soul into this document. there are things in here which many of us may never really appreciate that she fought for over a long, long period of time, and i'm going to acknowledge a few of those during the course of my former remarks, but while she is here on the floor, let me give special credit to my colleague. she really took on this task and did it in an extraordinary way. after years of expirations and teamster extensions, primarily due to the problems and inaction in the house of representatives, this bill finally is going to provide farmers in illinois and across the nation with some
guarantee of certainty on their future. compared to presequestration budget levels -- that's budget talk around here for past budgets -- this bill is going to save $23 billion over the next ten years. this conference report before us really works to do four things -- invest in energy and research, help our rural communities grow. those of us who represent small town america know how important that is. ensure stability for our farmers who face the necessary is tiewdz of -- face weather and market and provide food assistance for those both here and overseas. these are amazing and important goals. i'm glad senator stabenow and all the conferees really applied themselves to make this happen. i'm disappointed by one thing and i know senator stabenow will not be surprised. despite modest reforms we still
provide extraordinary outsized support for farmers who buy crop insurance. in fairness, this bill eliminates a price support program that was no longer defensible, a program that paid farmers in good times as well as bad. so it really wasn't what it was designed to be, emergency help for farmers in need. and she eliminated the direct payment program by and large and that to me is a step forward. instead, this bill moves farmers toward crop insurance. and most of us stepping back say, well, that sounds like the responsible thing to do. a farmer buys an insurance policy so if things goback bad on the farm, a flood, a drought, some other problem, or the prices happen to be disastrous when the farmer goes to market, the insurance policy will make sure that they can live to plant again. that is a good thing. but as i've said several times, any time you put the two words "federal" and" insurance" in the
same sentence i advise my colleagues step back and ask some questions. this is not insurance as you envision it. it isn't a matter of automobile insurance where the automobile owners pay enough in premiums to create a reserve to cover the exposure of accidents. different. under the crop insurance program like many federal insurance programs, there is a massive federal subsidy. 62% of the reserves that are necessary to make the program function are provided by the federal treasury, not by premiums paid by farmers. so it's a good program, it's a valuable program, it is critically important, but let's keep our mind on the reality here. it is heavily subsidized by the federal government. senator tom coburn of oklahoma, a very conservative republican, and i decided to offer an amendment which said if you are
a farmer whose income is over $750,000 a year, we will reduce slightly the government's subsidy of your crop insurance. over $750,000 in income, we will reduce slightly the 62% federal subsidy on your crop insurance. you will pay slightly more in premiums because you're able to. you're better off than most. this passed not once but twice on the floor of the united states senate and it turned out the conferees primarily from the house hay hated this provision like the devil hates holy water so they struck this provision from the bill and that's unfortunate. not only did we pass it twice, the house had passed an instruction to conferees to include it on the floor. members wanted to be on record saying they liked this idea and when the conferees got their
hands on it, they lopped it right out of the bill. let me ask you to hold on to that thought for a moment while i get into another section of the bill. the area where the house conferees really worked up an appetite was when it came to the supplemental nutrition assistance program, the so-called food stamp program. and, again, let me commend senator stabenow as chairman of the agriculture committee. she called me several times to tell me about the battles that she had to wage to protect the food stamp snap program. let's talk about the program for a minute. almost 15% of households across america have trouble keeping food on the table. snap or the food program, provides 47 million americans with essential food assistance. 83% of the households that receive food stamps include a child or a person with disability or a senior citizen.
nearly one million veterans use the food stamp program each year in america. in illinois over two million people, almost one in seven residents rely on snap benefits to buy the food they need. who are these people? who in world needs food stamps in a great state like the state of illinois? let me tell you about two or three of them. one of them was the elderly lady that i met at the irving park methodist church food pantry. she was on a walker, she had a very short haircut suggesting perhaps she had been through some chemotherapy or radiation and she soldiered her way up the there to get a bag of groceries and i sat down and i talked to her and i said can you tell me a little bit about how you're doing? i'm doing okay. i get $800 a month in social security, she said. i said how in the world do you live in chicago on $800 a month? ain't easy, senator. got to pay the rent, the
utility bills and the basics and, she says, i come to this food pantry and one other one, each one of them gives me three days' worth of food. i get about one month, six days out of the two food pantries and i get food stamps worth about $130 a month. that's it, folks. that's what she lives on. an elderly person. and when the house republicans said what we need to do is cut $40 billion, that was their original recommendation, $40 billion out of food stamps, they apparently had never met this lady and what she was up against. or they might have met a couple workers i had a press conference with on sunday in chicago. working full time and qualifying for food stamps. one was a fellow who works on the west side of chicago at a used car lot, does it all, he says, cleans the cars, shovels the lots, sells the cars and gets paid $8.25 an hour which is
our state minimum wage. four kids. his wife's sick and can't work. he gets food stamps. and needs them. for food on the table for kids for a full-time worker at a minimum wage job. then on the other side was a lady who is a waitress. and she told the story of being a single mom, her son's now 19, she's heading off to the city college of chicago, that's a great deal. but she works a job which has a guaranteed minimum wage in illinois of about $4.50 an hour, that's what waitresses are guaranteed, tip wage. nationally, the tip wage is $2.13 an hour. she says i don't work in a fancy restaurant. and i'm lucky to come home with $10 or $20 of tips on a day. do the math. and she said some days they doantsd call me into work. i get nothing. she relies on food stamps, too. a woman who is ready to work, standing up all day waiting
tables, so in come the house republicans and say we really need to come down hard on these people, these lazy people on food stamps. i wish they would meet some of these folks who use food stamps to get by, to survive. these people are our neighbors, they're hardworking people who lost their jobs or got sick, they're seniors living on a limited fixed income. now, this bill does cut 8 dlst billion dollars out of the -- $8 billion out of the snap program. i understand the cut that were made and i think senator stabenow and others have done these carefully. i don't want any fraud in this program, she doesn't either. and we think we have tightened it up so it will not affect the payments to those who are truly eligible and those who need the help and yet it will make sure that taxpayers are treated fairly as well. but look at the contrast. some of the conferees walked into this hearing and said that
farmers who make almost a million dollars a year should not have any reduction in their subsidy for crop insurance, but people like the lady at the irving park methodist church food pantry being paid $8 a month, we ought to be -- take a hard, hard look at the $130 a month we give this lady. that's upside down. that doesn't reflect the values of this country or the priorities that we need to face. and i thank the senator from michigan. she worked long and hard, was a real champion when it came to the snap program, the food stamp program. incidentally, mr. president, the good news is as the economy improves and people get back to work the number of people on food stamps is going down which is what we want to see. but doesn't it say something about us as a nation, a caring, compassionate nation that we're going to be there to help those families living in our towns and our state going to our churches when they're struggling to put food on the table?
why was that such an inviting target for some of the house conferees? i don't understand that. there's a lot of money that can be saved in government. we don't want to waste a penny of it but let's focus primarily on those who can afford to pay and are getting a federal subsidy as opposed to those struggling to get by and are asking for a helping hand. this bill does so things i couldn't even start to describe all the different areas dealing with risk on the farm, key investments in energy and research, ag research, programs to help rural communities grow, and helping those in need. most importantly, this reauthorization gives illinois farmers certainty about farm programs and they need it, something they haven't had for the last three years. i'm going to support this bill. i wish that we'd been able to preserve that provision that senator coburn and i included but i believe on balance it is an important step forward in
farm country across america and i yield the floor. mr. flake: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: as the senate turns its attention this week to the farm bill conference report, my thoughts turn to the wild west to put its provisions in context. frankly, it's 950 pages lend themselves to talking about the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly. i mention the good because while this farm bill falls far short of gaining my support, it's not entirely without provisions worth highlighting. conferees included a one-term extension of the payment in lou of taxes or pilt program. that gives temporary predictability at least for counties with low tax bases due to federal landownership and provides congress with time to chart a long-term solution in this regard. in addition the bill authorizes
permanently the stewardship contracting authority, this is a critical land management tool that allows us to proactively reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, one i've long called for while reforms to the liability requirements are included, the report fails fails to include next flexibility on cancellation seetion ceilingses and that's something i'll work on in the future. when it comes to the bad there's not enough time to list all the items that should make any lawmaker cringe who is concerned about our crushing national debt or those of us trying to reform agriculture policy. rather than truthfully trimming the generous agricultural safety net taxpayers should prepare for another round of entirely new alphabet soup subsidy programs. the senator from illinois explained very well the crop insurance program that is so heavily subsidized. 62%, i think all of us with ato
insurance or other insurance would love to have that contribution from the federal government. this report doesn't even provide commonsense reforms that limit waste and largess to sustain -- two sustained hallmarks of agriculture subsidies. it fails to limit payments to those who are actually involved in farming. it can't even provide a reasonable income limit, as was discussed by the senator from illinois, for those who already receive crop insurance subsidies. incomprehensibly, any recognition of the arrangement between crop insurers and the federal government would be required to be revenue neutral despite billions of dollars in taxpayer savings having been found in previous renegotiations. this bill is purported to be fiscally conservative because it saves $16 billion or so in tax dollars. before we pat each other on the back in this regard we need to remember that congress has a dismal record of knowing how
much farm bills are going to cost. according to taxpayers for sequence commonsense "the last two farm bills shall are on pace to exceed their congressional budget office score by $400 billion. there is no assurance this farm bill will be any different." now let's get to the ugly. for years direct payments have been one of the clearest signs of what needs to be changed in federal spending. the federal government has been handing out $5 billion a year regardless whether they are farming the land. i pay tribute to the senator from michigan who has fought to end these direct payments and the senate did a pregdz job there but the house did not. i myself have long sought to end these direct payments. i was encouraged with the senate action to end these payments outright. but despite our fiscal situation the best we can get in the house was allowing direct payments to continue albeit slightly reduced for cotton for 2014 and 2015. this conference report purports to end direct payments but ends
them in name only for cotton. let's be clear, it simply renames direct payments for cotton for two years. they'll now be called transition payments. cotton growers will continue to receive payments until -- wait for it -- the other new subsidy programs created in this report come on line. perhaps instead of western movies i should have conjured up images of shakespeare to describe this fiscal tragedies. a government funded handout by another name is still a government handout. it's worth recalling that when originally created in 1996, in the 1996 farm bill, direct payments went by the name amta payments or agricultural market transition payments. it would appear for some comopts there will always be a transition for something -- from something to something else that will result in a taxpayer
funded handyout. according to the c.b.o. score, it will take a zero cost from the senate proposal and the $443 billion cost from the house proposal and compromises at a higher cost of $556 billion in 2015. that's some compromise to go well above both the house and the senate numbers. while the ten-year score for the transition payments in the report is lower than the house proposal, the first-year costs are actually higher. it is at this point that one can simply stop being surprised at what will happen when it comes to farm subsidies. sadly, rather than a blockbuster of fiscal sanity, taxpayers are going to be saddled with what looks like to be another rerun of missed opportunities to reform federal agriculture policy. although livestock groups have decried the absence of fixes and ongoing regulatory problems and fiscal conservatives are chafing at the continued waste of
spending in this report, this report is still likely to be adopted. there are other issues addressed that i'm pleased -- i'm pleased that some of this will end up on the president's desk, but i cannot support this conference report and i'll continue to push for real fiscal discipline in federal agriculture policy. i should note i remember when i first got to congress or just about a year after i came to the floor of the house to rail against the -- the farm bill at that time in 2002, the reauthorization. we had gone in the 1990's from the freedom to farm act to the farm security act. now, for those of us conservatives who talk about moving from freedom to security and all that means, that was actually in the title of the bill, and we haven't improved much since that time. that was more than a decade ago. and i have to say that we should have made progress that is simply not made in this b